NewsCovering Colorado


The vote investment: Money in the midterms

Posted at 9:48 PM, Nov 15, 2018

COLORADO-  This election turned out to become one of the most expensive ever, both across the nation and here in Colorado.

‘If people see an opportunity for money to make a difference, they’re more likely to donate,’ said Joshua Dunn, Dept. Chair of Political Science, University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

With high profile races, and Colorado’s competitive nature in politics- the money showed up in races both big and small.

About a dozen Colorado House of Representative candidates spent $100,000 or more on their campaigns.

Candidates for Congress and Governor spent millions in hopes of getting elected into office.

In many cases, the candidates who spent the most money ended up winning their races.

Campaign finance is often criticized throughout elections and it becomes a common topic at the local, state, and federal levels.

‘Our bigger picture that we worry about is those special interests coming in and spending lots and lots of money,’ said Amanda Gonzalez, Executive Dir. Colorado Common Cause , which works to change campaign finance policy.

As an organization, Colorado Common Cause works to help voters understand the election process and find solutions for fair election finance laws.

‘We want them [elected officials] to listen to their constituents and listen to the people that voted for them, or maybe didn’t vote for them,’ said Gonzalez.

One of the solutions Gonzalez believes could ultimately work is something Denver voters approved in this midterm election: a public fund to assist candidates.

‘I think it’s a really great solution,’ said Gonzalez, the fund assists candidates who agree not to take donations from larger groups- by matching small donations up to $50.

‘It’s a way of sort of getting more bang for your buck,’ said Gonzalez.

Denver voters just approved this, so seeing how it impacts elections will take a few years.

If you’re looking at the impact of money on this month’s election- you’ll see for many candidates, the money often turned into votes.

Whether the money went into television or online advertising, it brought the second highest voter turnout in the nation for Colorado.

For example, in the Governor’s race, Jared Polis spent nearly $23 million. With the more than 1.3 million votes he received, it turned out to be about $17 per vote.

Compared to Republican opponent Walker Stapleton, his $3 million turned out to more than a million votes, coming out to about $4 a vote.

At the Colorado Democrats victory party, leaders even suggested changing campaign finance laws again in Colorado.

When it comes to a solution that works for everyone, there’s many thoughts on what makes a fair system.

Some even say by limited contributions, it limits someone’s ability to use their voice in the electoral process.

‘Money in politics is like water going down hill, you can put up these barriers but the money’s going to find its way around them,’ said Dunn.